Some facts about mental health disorders and young people. Understanding and recognizing them can better enable parents, peers and others to guide them to get the help they need. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Facts and Prevalence

  • 20-percent of young people ages 13-18 live with a mental disorder
  • 50-percent of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and 75-percent by age 24
  • 10-years is the average time span between onset of symptoms and when a young person gets help
  • 50 percent of young people with a disorder ages 14 and older drop out of school

Warning Signs (when to get help)

  • Feeling sad or withdrawn for longer than 2 weeks
  • Sudden severe mood swings
  • Drastic change in behavior, personality or sleeping habits
  • Not eating, throwing up, using laxatives to lose weight; or significant weight gain or loss
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, heart racing
  • Out of control risk taking behavior including drugs, drinking
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Trying to harm oneself, or talk of suicide
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 thru 24. Ninety percent of young people who killed themselves had underlying mental illness.

What Parents/Caregivers Can Do

  • Talk with your pediatrician
  • Get a referral to a mental health specialist
  • Work with your school
  • Connect with other families experiencing similar circumstances